Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations (Online)

Chronicle: February 2009 - May 2009

Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations (Online)

Chronicle: February 2009 - May 2009

Article excerpt

February 2009

It was reported in the Dominion Post that changes to the Employment Relations Act and in particular the Employment Relations (Probationary Periods) Amendment Act would come into force 1 March 2009. The Department of Labour's Deputy Secretary, Workplace, Craig Armitage also promoted the employment agreement builder tool on its website in which he stated that: "... the employment agreement builder is designed to take out the hassle, and make it an easy and straightforward job that will take minutes not hours of time...".

The NZ Herald reported the announcement of a Job/Employment Summit to take place in late February. Chaired by NZX chief executive Mark Weldon, the purpose of the summit was to come up with a clear and practical plan to minimise job losses during the recession. In a general discussion on the current economic climate and its impact, the article noted that it was unlikely that companies would give generous wage increases with some large employers announcing that their senior executives would not be receiving any increases. The Government adopted the same stance with the Prime Minister calling for a zero increase in MP salaries and urging unions to moderate their pay claims. The article argued that while the role of the summit was to keep as many people as possible employed, the real challenge was to improve productivity to enable companies and their employees to weather the downturn and position them to take advantage when conditions improve. It concluded that a bigger step would be the creation of a common vision for New Zealand by the Government, employers and unions.

However, Job/Employment Summit was not without its cynics as reported in the Waikato Times in which one observer noted that the summit would be all talk and no action. While it was agreed that it was good that the Government was taking action, the observer was not sure what would come out of it, particularly as business leaders in the Waikato had not been invited. Notwithstanding, Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns saw the summit as an opportunity for collaboration and to reduce the negative impact of the global recession. Also a number of Waikato business leaders had suggestions for the Government to ensure the success of the summit.

Some of the more sensational employment cases before the Employment Relations Authority were also highlighted in the February media. In particular, the case of Davis ? Toolking Plus Limited was reported in the Press illustrating that the act of telling one's employer to "stick the job" in the heat of the moment may not necessarily mean that the employee actually wanted to resign. The dispute was between Mr and Mrs Davis, who managed the Hamilton shop for Toolking Plus and lived on the premises, and Mr Edge, who was one of the directors of the company. Mr Edge, who had looked after the shop while Mr and Mrs Dfavis were away, was not happy with the state in which he found the shop. When Mr and Mrs Davis returned from their annual leave Mr Edge raised his concerns with them and an argument ensued in which Mr Davis told Mr Edge to "stick his job". The next day Mr Edge told Mr and Mrs Davis for the keys to the shop and told them to vacate the flat above the shop. The ERA ruled that while an employer was entitled to rely on a clear resignation, care was needed when words were spoken as ". . .part of an emotional outburst in the heat of the moment". A fair and reasonable employer would have realised the Davis's had not intended to resign immediately or to vacate their flat above the shop straight away and would have approached them the next day to clarify their intentions. Mr Davis was awarded $8,450 for lost earnings and $6,000 compensation for distress, but this was reduced by 30 per cent because of his remark and his failure to talk about the exchange.

The Waikato Times reported that in spite of the fact that a Tairua restaurant proprietor dismissed her waiter after he sent her flying into a door, she was ordered by the Employment Relations Authority to pay her assailant $500. …

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